Why A Blog Is Important For Your Freelance Business
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
So, you’ve just decided to become a freelancer. What is the best way to get started?
Obviously, you need to apply for gigs. But, is there anything else that you should be doing for your business when you start out?
If you ask me, you should also be blogging.
New freelancers often ask how soon they should start blogging. While some experts believe that a freelancer should wait until their business is fairly well established before they set up a business blog, in my opinion, you should set up a blog for your business as soon as you can.
Blogging is a relatively low cost activity that will add value to your business for a long time to come, and in many cases blogging alone can push your business from obscurity to prosperity.
Read on for an overview of what you should be doing with your freelance blog, five ways that a blog can help your business, and a few brief recommendations on how to get started.
Five Ways That a Blog Can Help Your Freelance Business
There are many ways that blogging can help you build up your freelancing business quickly. Here are five of them:
1. Web Presence. Having a blog gives you and your freelancing business an immediate online presence, especially if you can get a URL with all or part of your business name in it. If your freelancing business is primarily online (web design, web content, etc.), having an online presence is expected. However, other freelancers can also benefit by having a blog. For one thing, a blog gives clients an alternate way to find you.
2. Describe and List Your Services. With a business blog, you can create a separate static web page using your blog’s content management system that describes the products or services that your business offers. Not only can prospective clients see what type of business you are in just by reading the page, you can also link to the page yourself when you create proposals or send e-mails. Don’t forget to update this page when you acquire new skills or expand your services.
3. Home for Your Portfolio. A blog makes an excellent home for your professional portfolio. You can create a separate static page to showcase samples of your best work or link to websites that include your work. Clients and prospective clients examining this page can get a good idea of what your abilities are. Again, don’t forget to review and update this page periodically.
4. Position Yourself as an Expert. A blog allows you to position yourself as an expert while letting clients and perspective clients learn more about you. By creating helpful or informative posts on topics relevant to your freelancing specialty, you can establish your professional authority in your field. (While it’s okay to let your personality shine through in your posts, remember to keep your posts professional. Too much personal information on your business blog won’t help your business.)
5. Networking. Blogging also provides a wonderful opportunity for networking. If you leave your comments turned on (and you really should), then you have the opportunity to “discuss” your posts with perspective clients and peers. If someone leaves a comment on your posts, not only do you have the chance to respond, but you can also pay a visit to their blog and get to “know” them a little better. Before long, it is likely that your freelancing blog will have a little community of regulars who stop by to chat.
How To Get Started
There are many detailed and excellent, but somewhat complex, posts on how to start blogging. This is not one of those posts.
In a nutshell, all that you need to start blogging (assuming that you have a computer and an Internet connection) are the following:
1. Get a Domain. The first thing that you need to start a business blog is an unused domain name (your URL) that you can register. Ideally, it should be your name, your business name, or somehow related to your business. There are many services that will help you find a domain name. Typically, the cost for this service is less than $10.00.
2. Find a Web Hosting Service. Next, you will need a web hosting service. A web hosting company provides space on their server for your blog. While some services (such as Blogger.com) will allow you to host a blog at no charge, most experts recommend that you use a web hosting service. Most web hosting services charge less than $130 a year for hosting a single domain name.
3. Choose a Content Management System. Once you have a unique domain name and a place to host your domain, you need a way to manage your content. A content management system is the tool that you will use to add posts to your blog, change your blog’s design, or add pages to your blog. Many reputable content management systems, (such as WordPress.com) are free.
4. Find Theme or Design. A theme or design defines the look of your business blog. There are literally thousands of themes available on the Internet and many of them are free. You can also pay a professional designer to customize a theme specifically for your business blog. (The advantage of using a designer is that no one else will have a blog that looks like yours.)
5. Network with Social Media. Once your blog is up and running, you need to promote it in order to get readers. Social media provides a great way to promote your business blog. There are hundreds of social media tools available, and you can register on nearly all of them free of charge. (I recommend focusing on just a handful of social media tools. Right now, the most popular social media tools seem to be Facebook.com and Twitter.com.)